The stability of the cometary plasma tail and rays

A. I. Ershkovich*, D. A. Mendis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stability of both the main cometary plasma tail and the tail rays is considered, taking into account the coupling between the plasma and the neutrals that flow out radially from the nucleus. It is shown that this coupling has a negligible effect on wave damping. Rather, we found that the neutral wind tends to destabilize the flanks of the main tail. On the other hand, the cometary rays are subject to both stabilizing and destabilizing effects because of the ion-neutrals drag. As a result, helical perturbations should become azimuthally asymmetric. Our study predicts that the folding rays may become wavy while approaching the tail axis, whereas they should remain straight far away from the tail axis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-134
Number of pages8
JournalEarth, Moon and Planets
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1986


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